With Christmas nearly upon us it is likely there will be some tasty pieces of chocolate around the house. You may have heard that chocolate is not suitable for dogs to eat and that it can poison them. This is sadly true...but why?

Chocolate contains a natural chemical compound called Theobromine which is found in the cocoa bean. It is this chemical that can make chocolate dangerous for dogs. In fact this same chemical can lead to chocolate poisoning within humans!! Dogs digest their food much more quickly than humans and therefore the effects of Theobromine can be heightened.

There is a certain amount of chocolate that your dog will have to consume before it leads to poisoning. The amount depends on the weight of the dog against the amount of Theobromine within the chocolate (there is a higher level of Theobromine within dark, plain chocolate compares to milk or white chocolate). 

Symptoms of chocolate poisoning are:

  • Vomiting
  • Diorrhoea
  • Increased body temperature
  • Increased reflex responses
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Advanced signs (cardiac failure, weakness, and coma)

Prolonged exposure to Theobromine can lead to complications later in the dogs life (such as heart failure). So although the temptation of offering your dog a small amount of chocolate as a treat might be there, it is important to remember that this may lead to health issues. There have been cases recorded where dogs have not survived chocolate poisoning due to prolonged exposure and an instant effect of Theobromine

Dogs do not need chocolate as part of their diet or as treats, so it is better to be safe than sorry and keep all chocolate items out of your 4 legged friends way during the festive season.  If you are worried that your dog may have been affected by chocolate poisoning then please seek the advice of your vet.

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